Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Bicycle Hypocrite

I'm not entirely sure how to go about admitting this, but I think I have discovered that I am a bicycle hypocrite.  I am definitely sure I don't know what to do about it (if anything), but here is the tale. Hopefully, it will help me be a bit more rational to share some thoughts.
Image found here
For quite some time, I rode my bicycle on a busy highway to and from work and to do pretty much anything I needed to get done on a given day in town. The route I rode was approximately 8-9 miles one way. The highway speeds (for cars) often reached 70-75mph (though the actual limit is 65 mph). I never wore a helmet, never worried about my safety, and arrived to all destinations without harm. Honestly, I never thought twice about the cars (unless they were honking at me or cutting me off) and merrily went on my way, singing songs, finding random objects on the side of the road, and just enjoying being outside. When we moved "into" town early last year, that route disappeared from my rides because everything was much closer (and because I wasn't working anymore, but instead had to travel to school - by car - ugh... the car).

Anyway, just before we moved Sam's job changed and had him traveling from an in-town job to a destination to the south of us. Obviously, this was an increase in mileage (instead of what would've been a 3 mile one-way quick ride, he now has a 17 mile one-way trip), and I assumed that he would no longer be riding his bike to work, but would rather drive. I was wrong. Instead, Sam decided that he still wanted to try to ride his bike, at least sometimes, to work. While I admire the goal of riding the 34 mile round trip, the path he takes is down a very busy highway for all but about 1 mile of the distance.

Although I know he can physically ride the distance in a decent time, I have found that I turn into one of the people I worked with who would always ask, "Are you sure you don't want a ride home tonight? It is raining after all." Every time he rides I repeatedly state that I am more than happy to come and pick him up in the car. Why am I doing this? My biggest concern is the traffic on the highway and knowing how people drive while on it, coupled with the fact that it really isn't very well lit (though he does have lights on his bike). It's dark while he travels in both directions (at least during this time of year), and I worry about his safety. Today, he was about 30 minutes later than I expected and I was preparing to go on a hunt just as he walked in the door. While I understand he is a "big boy" and can make his own decisions, I find that I worry far more about his safety than I did (do) about my own. Am I being a control freak, or is this a genuine concern? In general, I don't tend to feel the need to control what others do, and I do think that this is a legitimate concern, but I also think that I am over-worrying about the situation at times. As soon as he's more than 15 minutes late though, my mind starts wandering and I picture horrific scenes that I won't even bother to share here (let's just say I have a very vivid imagination).

While I can't necessarily control my concern for him, I am trying to give it a rest and let him do something that I know makes him happy. After all, even though my route was shorter and traversing a different highway, I have been in his shoes and survived just fine. Any thoughts on the matter are happily accepted.  Maybe you've had a similar experience or can offer some thoughts on the matter.

14 comments:

  1. I think it's natural to worry about things that are beyond our control. Your challenge is to try to let go of that worry. I know it won't be easy. Once our loved ones leave our front door, what happens to them is always outside of our control, whether they're 34 feet or 34 miles away from home. Is it possible that your fears are a symptom of something else? Something that maybe you haven't even examined yet?

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  2. I also wanted to share this PDF with you that has been helping me deal with my own anxieties, and helps me think more realistic thoughts:
    http://www.anxietybc.com/sites/default/files/RealisticThinking.pdf

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  3. I think what you're feeling is entirely normal. My husband's bike ride to/from work is only 10 minutes long, and I worry!

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  4. I found that a good solution for me was to get a folding bike so that when the weather turned bad or if I didn't feel like riding, it was easy enough to take the bus or catch a ride with someone, and still be able to take my bike along. It also gave my family peace of mind to know I had this "out" if I needed it.

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  5. I agree with the other ladies in that it's perfectly normal to fret about your significant other with he/she is on the road. Despite my being a stronger and more confident-in-traffic rider, Scott worries when I'm a few minutes late. When I started riding to work, he wanted me to call him when I left and as soon as I got to the garage. I humored him for the first couple of months. Now that he's planning to start commuting by bike, I kind of want him to do the same thing because he will have to deal with a lot more traffic than I do.

    So, three out of three female cyclists agree that you're okay. :)

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  6. I think we always worry about others more than ourselves, it's normal. I think I would be very upset if you never said anything! People are rolling at 65-70mph on the road I sometimes bike, so I try to stay really far to the right of shoulder, hence the flat tire when i got home. Seventeen miles is probably close to the max distance I would consider travelling, safely. I wonder witch route poses more danger, our old one, or the one I have been travelling since the move?

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    1. I think both highways are pretty bad. I think most travel a bit slower on your route; however, I also notice a lot more needless swerving in the lane (which could be worse).

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  7. Thanks to all for your thoughts. I suppose in some ways it would be strange not to have some concern. I just don't want it to get out of control or create an environment of needless fear-mongering.

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  8. I've heard of someone who went as far as sell her husband's bicycle out of fear he'd have an accident but I think it isn't love, it's something bordering on the pathological. So from what your Sam writes about… I wouldn't worry about worrying too much if I were you.

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    1. I would never even think about selling his bikes. I think we have a solid enough relationship that we can talk things out when they are of concern. I know I wouldn't be happy if he did that to me, so I would of course give the same respect.

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  9. I think your worries are justified. I will not ride on a road where the speed limit is above 55 ---- and certainly not 65. It's just too dangerous. 99% of the traffic is fine. But there is always an idiot or a drunk or someone not paying attention that can easily end your life. This can happen anywhere, even when you're driving your car, but I believe the risk increases with speed, to a level I'm not willing to accept.

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    1. I agree. Unfortunately, the "side road" that would also get him to work is currently under construction, so he can't use it, leaving only the main highway. It's definitely scary to think about the possibilities. I'm just hoping construction gets wrapped up soon so he can have more of a calmer ride in/home.

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  10. One almost hopes gas will reach 10$ a liter someday… Then there'll be fewer (and slower) cars on the roads and almost none on city streets.

    (I'm joking.)

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